Friday, July 22, 2011

Good old days

Some day, public libraries will be regarded with that far greater reverence we reserve for things we once had.  Alan Bennett gets us off to a wonderful start , and has a nice parting shot:

It’s hard not to think that like other Tory policies privatising the libraries has been lying dormant for 15 years, just waiting for a convenient crisis to smuggle it through. Libraries are, after all, as another think tank clown opined a few weeks ago, ‘a valuable retail outlet’.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Books as fetish objects

Sad times for bibliophiles; the book, writes James Gleick, "is like the coffin at a funeral. It deserves to be honored, but the soul has moved on."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death of the expert, or birth of the expert?

Sven Birkerts has a bone to pick with Maria Bustillos' article Wikipedia and the Death of the Expert. Sven has been windmill-tilting indefatigably ever since the Gutenberg Elegies (1994!), and you can't help admire the poor sod - not only for his pluck, but also for his beautiful and perceptive writing. And for providing such inspiring examples of what both he and I cherish; non-instrumental thinking and writing. Bustillos responds here, but methinks "Wikipedia and the birth of the expert" would have been a better title for her article....

Useless stereotypes (aren't they all?)

Introducing the Mechanic Muse

(excerpt) In this week’s issue, the Book Review inaugurates a new column, The Mechanic Muse, that will examine different aspects of this techno-­literary complex. This week, Kathryn Schulz takes a virtual trip to the Stanford Literary Lab, where literary scholars are mutating into computer scientists, and vice versa. Can a computer recognize a literary genre or help us see the plot of “Hamlet” anew? Should it? Read the column to decide for yourself.